Fair Grounds Set to Open 141st Season
November 22, 2012
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Once again the bugle will sound, the announcer will shout "They're off . . .!" and the starting gate will spring open. A new racing season, the 141st, begins in New Orleans on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22 at the Fair Grounds Race Course, the third oldest continuously operating thoroughbred track in the nation.
Top sprinters on that day will be competing in the 87th Running of the $100,000 Guaranteed Thanksgiving Handicap, going 6 furlongs on the main track. Also on opening day will be the 5th Running of the $60,000 Guaranteed Mr. Sulu Stakes for Accredited Louisiana-Breds for 1 1/16 miles on the turf.
It promises to be an exciting opening day and there is still time to make your reservations for clubhouse seating and dining. Plenty of turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and other traditional Thanksgiving fare will be on the menu for those who choose to celebrate this great, uniquely American holiday away from home.
Gates open at 10:00 a.m. and posting for the first race is at 11:00. Ample parking is available on-site. For those who chose to go there by taxi, it is about a 15-minute ride from the French Quarter and downtown.
With a heritage dating back to 1872, the Fair Grounds Race Course has seen more than its share of horse racing history made along its mile-long oval. The names of the jockeys who have ridden to victory there – Eddie Arcaro, Johnny Longden, Willie Shoemaker, J.D. Mooney, Eddie Delahoussaye, Pat Day and many others – are as legendary as the horses themselves, among whom Black Gold, Pan Zareta, Whirlaway and Risen Star (literally) lead the pack.
Racing season at the Fair Grounds traditionally runs from Thanksgiving weekend through the end of March the following year. Many featured races and "handicaps" are held throughout the season, including the prestigious Louisiana Derby just before the end of each season.
The track offers a wide selection of seating options, ranging from ultra-modern dining facilities in a glass-enclosed clubhouse – complete with video monitors at each table – to no-frills grandstand seating outdoors. "Rail birds" can belly up to the fence at the finish line, cheering on their favorites as they round the final turn in a hoof-thundering finale. A wide range of betting options are available at dozens of pari-mutuel counters and the odds can change for better or worse up to one minute before post time.
Reservations and appropriate attire are required for clubhouse seating.
Louisiana Derby Infield Fest
March 30, 2013
Plans have been announced for the Fair Grounds to host the first Louisiana Derby Infield Festival. It will be held on the same day as the Louisiana Derby, March 30, 2013, starting around the same time as the first race at 2:00. The festival will feature live music and a dozen or more food trucks, plus food and beverage tents and a number of VIP options that will include both mobile suites, identical to those at professional golf tournaments, and tented party areas.
Native New Orleans rockers, Cowboy Mouth, will headline the live entertainment lineup as the Louisiana Derby celebrates its 100th running. Other performers will be announced at a later date.
The festival will be taking place as the races are going on and attendees will have access to the infield via a bridge that will span the track between the finish line and the first turn. Crossings will be allowed between the individual races. The event will occupy a portion of the infield opposite the grandstands and clubhouse and adjacent to the infield pond. The music tent will be placed behind the tote board and festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets.
The Infield Festival and Louisiana Derby are taking place later the same day as the Crescent City Classic 10K race. The Fair Grounds will host two special Crescent City Classic nights at the track during Starlight Racing on dates to be announced. Participating runners will have a chance to purchase discounted Infield Festival tickets when they complete their race registration online.
Infield Festival general admission will be $25 with VIP packages starting at $60. Advance tickets will go on sale online in January. For more details visit the Fair Grounds website.
The Fair Grounds also offers a wide variety of gaming options with 600 of the newest slot machines, featuring some of the most popular reel and video products on the market, including video poker. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. – 12 midnight, Monday through Saturday and 10:00 a.m. – 12 midnight on Sunday.
For clubhouse reservations or other information call 504-944-5515 or visit the Fair Grounds website at www.fairgroundsracecourse.com.